Published on Academy of American Poets (

[the girls speak to each other via the common tongue]: Feather or a Rock

          which do you love more
a feather or a rock

                                                     to be good is to be ‘natural’
                                                              I mean to appear

              you are not good
you are holding up though

                                                              you are holding up
                                                     you are getting a drink of water

                    you are eating
          you are concealing your identities

                                                     this is like a riotous wilderness
                                                              but more like a persistent dread

                              your ferocity, almost mycological


                    I said mycological

                                                     oh god

	                    oh my god
                                                     your laughter has undertones
                                                                      of oak and berries
and martial law
            conceived, as it were, in a garden


Copyright © 2018 by Ellen Welcker. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on January 16, 2018, by the Academy of American Poets.

About this Poem

“This poem is from a section of my manuscript in-progress, The Pink Tablet, that is concerned with the mutability of borders and boundaries real and imagined, imposed and inherent. Confronted with various modes of aggression—hunted, scapegoated, trapped and loathed—the girls lay claim with a shape-shifting ferocity, but the bodies they become are no safer vessels. The complexity this poem is exploring is the fact of being a being, how in so many small ways they (we) open to and guard against the world in all its shimmering terror and beauty. Here, they speak to each other in a private language that is half call-and-response, half finishing each other’s thoughts.”
Ellen Welcker


Ellen Welcker

Ellen Welcker is the author of Ram Hands (Scablands Books, 2016).

Date Published: 2018-01-16

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